[ NOTE: Image-heavy post ]
So, as mentioned in my previous post, I ran across this rather hokey, low-budget movie. It’s basically your standard Rapture-fare, and we launch straight into things:
Then we see an image of the “tasks left undone” motif that’s thought to be characteristic of a sudden Rapturing: clothes left in a pile where a person was sitting/standing, a phone off the hook, a table with food still left out, a stove with a pot boiling over, a radio announcement mentioning multi-car pileups and so on.
We follow the camera through the house, and end up outside: a car has crashed, a woman is frantically searching for her child, and other scenes of widespread disaster appear before us. Then, THE TITLE SCREEN!
Man, I tell you, nothing screams “classy movie” like that typewriter font shit. You just KNOW this is gonna be one kick-ass movie, right?
MOVING ON THEN.
So, we’re now in this bedroom and this blond dude is in bed. Must’ve had a late last night. The doorbell’s insistently ringing, so he goes to answer it. Turns out it’s his FBI buddy. Blond dude’s name is Adam Riley. The brown-haired dude’s name is Charles Baker.
These two guys are our main characters! 🙂 We’ll be following them along for the rest of the movie. Charlie tells Adam people have DISAPPEARED. Only he seems really dispassionate about it like oh gee it’s nothing much (even though he says, “In fact, we’ve had thousands of missing-person reports in our district alone”). We learn a buddy of theirs named George is one of the missing and they’re not freaking out about it??? Even with the already thousands of other people gone, too? Mmkay then! (But seriously, if I were in that scene? I would be shouting, “THIS IS SERIOUS SHIT U GUISE!”)
And then OH MY GOD. Guys, this is just the most mind-blowing example of the short shrift Christian Pre-Millennial Dispensationalists give Jews, like, EVER.
So the next scene is this synagogue and holy cliche, Batman.
I can’t understand the Hebrew in this scene, but rabbi dude is doing davening – it’s prayer with chanting and bobbing back and forth on your heels – and just in case we didn’t know we were seeing a synagogue there’s the Israeli flag on the left side, just to really totally make sure we know what scene this is.
No idea if the Hebrew on there is really for real or if it’s just something made up because hey, no need to worry about another language when the King James was good enougjh for Jesus, amirite?
Anyway, he hears sirens and he’s all spooked. Sensible I guess! Also, that beardy thing? Is totally a strap-on fake. I have no idea if real rabbis are supposed to have beardy things [EDIT: Apparently Orthodox Jewish men are supposed to have actual beards] but if they’re not, then I’ll put this one down to the movie writers and director figuring a stereotype will go down just fine because as far as they’re concerned it’s not like anyone who’s ACTUALLY JEWISH would ever watch this thing.
Okay, then we switch to the FBI district HQ which as you may expect for a crappy low-budget film does not look very district office-y. Head dude is here, never fear, and now it’s INFODUMP TIME:
At 7:23 this morning, everything you knew about the world changed. The estimates of the missing are now in the hundreds of thousands. Nationally, reports are in the millions. Worldwide, we have no idea. The President has declared a national state of emergency. Martial law has been enacted.
[…] Officially, Donald Parker and George Harris are confirmed missing. Now, this is going to hit a lot of you on a personal level, but I need you here. It’s chaos out there, and it’s our job to find out what happened. We need to restore order, and each and every one of you has a very difficult job ahead.
The agents go off and start interviewing people! We get lots of flashbacks! The movie folks save a lot of $$ by making sure that the camera never actually “sees” people disappear (except once when they interview George’s wife); we just see a bright flash of light and the HOLY CRAP reaction shot. Of course, the whole point of these repeated flashback intercuts is to hammer home the idea that one must be a “Real, True Christian” 100% or no Rapture for you!
Ok, remember what I said about the way this movie handles Jewish people? OH MY GOD JUST NO. Okay, you know how some Christians treat New Testament Bible verses as armor-piercing bullets against Jewish resistance to the notion that Jesus is the Messiah? Well OF COURSE the rabbi just runs out and buys a Bible (okay, it’s 1999, movie time, but still, I kind of think a rabbi might keep a Bible around just to be able to look up stuff in order to have discussions with Christians who come to synagogue for some reason) and frantically flips the pages.
Sure as shootin’, here’s the page:
And if you look up the names of the books (in, for example, the Revised Standard Version) both Acts and 1 Corinthians are New Testament verses. Judging from the text in the screenshot I’d bet dollars to donuts the rabbi got a King James, but here’s the equivalent text in the RSV, 1 Corinthians:
 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;
 for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
 So Anani’as departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized,
 and took food and was strengthened.
The rabbi runs his finger down the page and it stops on the “scales fell from his eyes” part, which… yeah, Unfortunate Implications, people. We don’t see any epiphany he’s had, we don’t see him undergoing any crisis of faith, we don’t see BUPKISS. All we see is the Jewish guy suddenly being all like OOPSIESHIT TIME TO BE A CHRISTIAN NOW. He lays his Bible down and picks up this curved horn, which I think is his shofar. He blows on it, and then scene cut.
*shakes head in disbelief*
So yeah, this is intercut with interviews and flashbacks so I’ll skip ahead to the next bit. A bunch of homeless guys in an alley, rough-looking types, get encountered by our rabbi dude, minus the beard. He calmly comes out of the shadows and is all like, “follow me” like he’s the new guru or something.
Now, the weird thing is, the subtitles I grabbed seem to imply there’s a scene of the FBI dudes interviewing some high school students, but school’s been called off ’cause so many teachers were missing. That seems to have been replaced by an extended scene of the FBI agents in a car blabbering about something, but I couldn’t quite follow the dialog.
Back home, Riley’s watching TV, and he’s watching a show called Views. First up is the moderator/host who introduces himself as Peter McCollum. Then some “very distinguished guests”! (Links open in a new window or tab)
Dr. Claire Holt, an ecological researcher at “City University”. (Could’ve come up with a better name, movie writers, honestly.)
Dr. Edward Wilkins, who is with City Evangelical Church, and Chair Emeritus at Alpha Theological Seminary.
Last up is Dr. Jason Hersch from APET (Astrophysics and Extra-Terrestrial Research Foundation).
Then he clicks the remote.
We cut to an ad from the “National Emergency Census Bureau”. Being as this is a Rapture/End Times themed movie, why OF COURSE it will be totally nefarious and not an emergency measure to try and find out how many people are left, no sireebob.
OH GOD THE COMIC SANS GET IT OUT OF MY EYES
Also, that logo? Yep, say hello to the first sign of the ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT.
We’re back to the talking heads. We’re listening to Dr. Holt (who, NGL, is attractive and has a nice voice) tell us that “Gaia” is a “living organism” with “great power to support life or extinguish it”. Gaia, she says, was “cleansing itself” of “overpopulation”. Given that this movie is designed to appeal to Christian fundamentalists, the obvious intention by the moviemakers is to make the audience dismiss this as just ‘magical woooooo’ – and her portrayal here IS kind of over the top. As such it’s not a fair portrayal of ecologists by any means.
Then Dr. Hersch gets his oar in, rattling on about reports of UFO abductions and sightings. Incidentally it looks like the unofficial name for the disappearances is “the Event”.
Finally Dr. Wilkins says NO UR BOTH WRONG. It was totally predicted thousands of years ago in the Bible! SO THERE.
Cut to a news reporter and the EVIL WORLD GOVERNMENT FORCES (who, by the way, are introduced with no preamble and no set-up at all, kind of like how in Edge of Apocalypse the UN enforcement offices are just, like, THERE.) She says, “Tonight, there has been gunfire in the downtown section of the city, as Global Enforcement Units have joined with the National Guard in routing out an enclave of gangs.”
Click. Cut back to the talking heads. Hersch is going on about extraterrestrial visits and whatnot, and then click. The announcer says, “Disturbances by right-wing extremists continue at the local census stations.”
Not quite anvilicious enough, you think?
Rabbi dude in the TV snippet shouts, “Don’t be deceived, this is not of God, don’t be blind to what the government is trying to do!” There is some blabber about the “Global Council of Nations” and then Click.
YES THANK YOU I HAVE HAD THE ANVIL DROPPED NOW. Evil Global Government will be headed up by an Antichrist and the Tribulation will start, uh-huh!
Back to the talking heads. Holt is making positive compliments about “secular humanism”, etc. Standard fundamentalist THIS PERSON IS BAAAD dog-whistle stuff.
Wilkins retorts that “science has proved the Bible” and “a major prophecy was fulfilled before our very eyes”.
Someone (Hersch, probably) says, “Well then, why are you still here, Doctor?”
Total deer in the headlights look.
HA HA OWNED BY THE ARMOR PIERCING QUESTION THERE BUDDY.
Next scene that isn’t a flashback/interview is the rabbi dude reopening a Christian shelter which, as it turns out, had been shut down by the omgevil Global Forces. Rabbi dude’s talking to a friend he seems to have made, and before they go in, he says, “[let’s] see what God has in store for us, huh?”
Clicheville, here we come.
I skipped over a lot of the flashback parts (and will mostly pass over George’s wife Catherine’s as well), but I want to note that her case is the first instance in which the movie shows the possible negative effects the Rapture has had on people: she’s had to be committed to a mental facility because the stress of losing her husband and children got to be too much for her to handle, and she tried to kill herself.
The story, as shown to us, of Catherine and her family, is pretty standard fare akin to Irene vis-a-vis Rayford or Abigail vis-a-vis Joshua: the earnest Christian spouse (George) wants the other spouse (Catherine) to join in the faith, but the non-Raptured spouse was not eager to fully commit. George gets Raptured reading to the kids before going to work, and it’s the one scene where they show it happening: people get washed over with a bright light and then vanish, leaving their Earthly clothes behind.
She’s now convinced that, as George had said, that the Rapture has happened. The FBI agents, however, are still somewhat skeptical. But Charles gets a call: Rebecca (his wife) is in the hospital DUN DUN DUN.
(Aside: the unrealism shows through at points, and it does so here. Wouldn’t hospitals be overflowing with patients, backlogged amid the chaos of patients, finding out who’s not-disappeared and can come on shift, etc etc etc? The mental facility is hardly overflowing, and is actually very quiet. Charlie getting a call about his wife doesn’t seem realistic if the hospitals would be too jammed up to really deal well with emergency cases and do the usual due process of notifying the hubby etc.)
And with that we’re about half an hour in. I’ll do the next chunk next time.